Gemini Sun

Today the Sun moved into Gemini and it became summer here on the Tropic of Cancer. I have mysteriously recovered from this semester and we are walking to Oriental rhythms along the quais, as the oil washes in.

I am about to recede into my stela at Copán, now in the country called Honduras, to meditate for a whole lunar month. In that time no sacrifices of any kind will be made, and no penitence will be undertaken.

Before leaving, since this is the space in which I psychoanalzye myself due to the incompetence of others to psychoanalyze skulls sculpted on latter-day stelae, I will make some remarks on a comment made elsewhere that allude to one of my still secret wounds.

To wit: my most difficult issue about teaching is that when mine was first seriously evaluated, the only characteristics that counted were traditional femininity and excessive douceur. Sisterliness and interest were not nearly enough. I had never heard that before and it was shocking. I say professora sim, tia não.

That the actual quality of one’s actual work did not matter was devastating. I have been terrified of teaching since. Summoning the courage to do it daily exhausts my reserves. That is why I estimated long ago that this wound was a liability. Normally I do not speak of this lest I lose control of the fear. But I have spoken of it, so I am less terrified now.

As I say, I shall depart soon for my stela, which predates Columbus. Our ancient writings, and those of the people who came here, and those composed after that, are all very great and still relatively unknown writings; they hold a certain charm.


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19 responses to “Gemini Sun

  1. Yeah, the performance of femininity as a criterion for survival has long scared the living daylights out of me as well. People, even those who are otherwise quite sophisticated, cannot understand that this issue does not relate to key Western dogmas: that we all have “choices”; or the idea that gender roles are an intrinsic function of one’s nature. Just knuckle down and perform femininity and stop being a cry-baby, seems to be the basic response. In other words, “be butter in our hands, and stop resisting. Start being a cry-baby, and at the same time stop being one, on command! We need you weaker than you are — but also for you not to show it.”

  2. That is a great and vivid summary of what goes on. You’re going to make it a blog post in its own right, correct? :-)

  3. I had a fascinating talk with an old friend who clarified for me the difference between gender performance and sexual preference. She says she never was much attracted to what are considered feminine pursuits, but she has always been sexually oriented toward men.

    I’m dumb about stuff, I guess. But I can say for myself that I’m not of the opinion that what men (in general) do is any better or worse than what women (in general) do.

  4. What I mean by performing a gender role isn’t related to pursuits but sets of attitudes, behaviors, personality traits, and so on. For women, being correctly submissive, etc.

    • I think ppl are often genuinely confused about the differences between sexual orientation and gender roles. There is a tendency to imagine that if one refuses one’s gender roles, one is changing one’s sexual orientation. Not even related.

  5. I guess people really do confuse these things! I have this hilarious story about discovering I was considered gay. I was getting asked to be on a lot of gay dissertations and figured it was just because I was on a lot of other minority type ones, so I had become the go-to person on anything alternative. Then I found out that it was because people assumed I WAS. Reasons were:

    a) strong opinions
    b) no spike heels
    c) lots of black clothes
    d) lots of time spent in New Orleans
    e) never mentioning husbands or boyfriends in class!

    So, I wasn’t performing the right feminine gender role, so I was gay. Nobody had minded, so nobody had complained, so that was why it took years to find out.

    • Hmmm..I’ve been considering of late that I wouldn’t mind being considered gay. That is because I’m not on the look out for a man. I already have a really good one. And it would be okay to have an excuse not to perform gender.

  6. No, you’ll still have to perform gender. Look at the whole butch-femme thing, for instance. The reason I found out I was gay was that not everyone thought I was performing the role right. It became a controversy. A man suggested that if I were straight but feminist, everything would add up right. So they sent a delegation to ask me, and that is how I found out about the whole thing! Debate had been raging for a year, and some femme lesbians were really mad that I hadn’t been supporting their schtick actively and passionately enough!

    Evidence: I have makeup on in the morning but as it wears off during the day I do not reapply, even for 5 PM classes in the heat. Evidence: I know how to buy makeup and lingerie but I just swoop down and grab it, and do not get *into* the shopping! It’s bad, I tell you, bad! ;-)

  7. Ah well there is no hope for me then. In any case I am battling some inner demons of anti-clerical-precision these days. You know, I have a swooping tendency, too, and a mental block about numbers. I’ve just realised that I won’t have four hours sitting around Jo’burg on my return, but merely two. That is a good thing. Could have sworn it was four. This mental block thing though? I’m too impatient with these detail-oriented things because they cause me so much stress. And so I tend to swoop on things, preferably. Most of the time this works out close enough to be good enough, but I have bought at least one inappropriate Ebay purchase due to my preference for speed over care and accuracy. And then I feel uncertain about my judgement.

    This is also, by the way, the aggregating factor that makes me incompetent with performing femininity. The more detailed I have to become, the more an aversion reaction grows in me, until it reaches boiling point. My anxiety can prevent me from performing in other areas. Best to give it a wide berth.

  8. I wonder, then, if my dislike for paint and varnish, which require you do be very detailed, is unfeminine. And of course I rush through what I dislike, which does not bring me to any good end. And get aversion reactions. Yet I do not mind hacking code.

    • One of the problems is if you are a person who works very strongly with intuition. Intuition (in the Jungian sense) is often mistaken for “feeling” because we are idiomatically misinformed by notions of “women’s intuition”. But the kind of intuition to which I am referring is pattern recognition. Such intuition enables one to see how otherwise unrelated things link together, very quickly. But the process of intuition is in direct opposition to plodding logic and detailed thinking.

      Anyway, a lot of people diss intuition because they don’t have it themselves, don’t see any need for it, and think it is based on nefarious “feeling” and makes you flighty. It’s not; it’s an intellectual tool.

      Working with intuition all the time is like having an engine within you that wants to always go at the fastest speed. Mistakes can be made in this way, but more than often the results one can achieve this way are startlingly novel and revealing.

      Those who try to feminise you, according to what they think you ought to be — remember that contradictory thing, “you can’t have ‘women’s intuition’; you must plod, you must also be expected to be treated as if you a motivated by feeling”– are creatures of poor understanding; hidden ressentiment.

  9. Yes, true and key. I also figured out yesterday that what people mean by “feeling” is “NEUROTIC feeling.” I’ve talked before about the idea that only hysteria is feeling, but I like this term “neurotic feeling” better.

  10. IN Western culture, feeling / “emotions” tend to be neurotically defined since they are repressed as part of cultural mores. This gives them a neurotic quality on a practical level. In Japanese culture, feelings are not neurotic; nor are they so in Zimbabwean culture.

  11. Yes. And I didn’t find out until I was about 30 that feelings were supposed to be neurotic, or that they were expected to be accompanied with histrionics to be considered real.

    • Another thing that I reflect upon of late is that “identity”, within Western culture, is basically monkey brain stuff. It has the aura of being about the intellect, and about one’s higher sense of self, but it never is. It’s really only about political machinations, how one postures most beneficially in order to get ahead. One’s higher sense of self is surely elsewhere, then, than in one’s “identity”.

  12. Well, that is why at yoga classes they keep telling you to get out of your identity to the real you. (They make some fairly nasty assumptions about what your identity must contain sometimes.)

  13. Maybe “identity”, as a psycho-social function, is just expected to do too much work, and hence the dysfunctional nature of it.

  14. This is highly possible.

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